Southern Bell Tel. & Tel. Co. v. McCook, No. 49837

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtENGLAND; OVERTON; ADKINS
Citation355 So.2d 1166
PartiesSOUTHERN BELL TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH COMPANY, Petitioner, v. Virginia G. McCOOK, Employee, and Florida Industrial Relations Commission, Respondents.
Decision Date31 August 1977
Docket NumberNo. 49837

Page 1166

355 So.2d 1166
SOUTHERN BELL TELEPHONE AND TELEGRAPH COMPANY, Petitioner,
v.
Virginia G. McCOOK, Employee, and Florida Industrial Relations Commission, Respondents.
No. 49837.
Supreme Court of Florida.
Aug. 31, 1977.
Rehearing Denied April 5, 1978.

Page 1167

Peter L. Dearing of Mahoney, Hadlow & Adams, Jacksonville, for petitioner.

C. Wayne Alford of Jacobs, Sinoff, Edwards, Alford & Burgess, Jacksonville, for respondents.

ENGLAND, Justice.

By petition for a writ of certiorari we are asked to review a decision of the Industrial Relations Commission which approves an award of workmen's compensation benefits. We have jurisdiction under Article V, Section 3(b)(3) of the Florida Constitution pursuant to Section 440.27, Florida Statutes (1975). It is our conclusion that the Commission's decision departs from the essential requirements of law in that it violates fundamental principles underlying Florida's workmen's compensation statute, and that the decision must be quashed.

The facts of this case are undisputed. Virginia McCook had been an employee of Southern Bell Telephone and Telegraph Company for many years without accident or injury. In November 1974, she had occasion to use the restroom during a regularly scheduled break. When she attempted to use the toilet tissue, it fell to the floor. While seated, she reached over to pick up the tissue and suddenly experienced a sharp pain across her back which caused a grabbing sensation. After a few minutes she was able to return to her work, and she was able to finish the day on the job. That evening, while at home, the pain returned and she became disabled.

Later diagnosis and treatment established conclusively that McCook had a congenital abnormality in her lower back consisting of an extra vertebra and one large nerve root where there should have been two smaller nerve roots. The pain initially felt at work and later experienced at home was diagnosed to have resulted from pressure on the nerve root in the area of the extra vertebra, "triggered" by Mrs. McCook's movement in bending over while seated. It is conceded by all parties that the same occurrence could have taken place at any time or place she might have made a similar movement, or one having the same effect on the nerve root, and that the manifestation of pain would have been identical.

When the claim for benefits was presented to the judge of industrial claims, Southern Bell conceded that the episode of pain occurred during the course of employment, and McCook conceded that there was no external trauma or injury which precipitated the pain. On these facts the judge held that McCook's act of bending to pick up toilet tissue during working hours constituted an "accident arising out of and in the course of employment", and awarded benefits. On review the Commission affirmed the award in a form order.

The only legal issue in this case is whether McCook suffered an "injury", which is defined by Section 440.02(6), Florida Statutes (1975), as "personal injury or death by accident arising out of and in the course of employment . . . ." There are three separate elements to this definition, each of which must be proved before a compensable injury can be found to exist. For the purposes of this case, we assume

Page 1168

that McCook suffered an "accident" 1 which occurred "in the course of employment." 2 The accident to McCook, however, is simply not one "arising out of . . . employment", and we refuse to accept McCook's implied invitation to judicially repeal this latter requirement. 3

In Bituminous Casualty Corp. v. Richardson, 148 Fla. 323, 4 So.2d 378 (1941), we adopted the following language from the Illinois Supreme Court's decision in School v. Industrial Commission, 366 Ill. 588, 591, 10 N.E.2d 360, 362 (1937):

"The phrases 'arising out of' and 'in the course of employment' are...

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47 practice notes
  • Carruthers v. PPG Industries, Inc., No. 88-C-2947
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Louisiana
    • May 1, 1989
    ...not that of the average worker or other mythical person. State v. Kemp, 711 P.2d 1142 (Wyo.1986); So. Bell Tel. & Tel. Co. v. McCook, 355 So.2d 1166 (Fla.1977); Meadow Gold Dairies v. Oliver, 535 P.2d 290 (Okla.1975); Baker Mobiles of Florida v. O'Neil, 412 So.2d 34 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.1982); ......
  • Cox v. Fagen Inc., No. S-95-673
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • March 22, 1996
    ...Parcel Service v. Fetterman, 230 Va. 257, 336 S.E.2d 892 (1985) (bending over to tie shoelace); Southern Bell Tel. & Tel. Co. v. McCook, 355 So.2d 1166 (Fla.1977) (employee, while sitting on toilet, bent over to pick up toilet tissue); Barrett v. Herbert Engineering, Inc., 371 A.2d 633 (Me.......
  • Zundell v. Dade County School Bd., No. 91-1848
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • December 15, 1992
    ...occurred during the course of employment, and (3) the accident arose out of the employment. Southern Bell Tel. and Tel. Co. v. McCook, 355 So.2d 1166 (Fla.1977). At issue in the instant case is the "arising out of employment" or causation element. This component must be established by showi......
  • Sedgwick CMS v. Valcourt-Williams, No. 1D17-96
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • April 5, 2019
    ...the issue here. The issue here is whether the injury was "arising out of" the employment. See Southern Bell Tel. & Tel. Co. v. McCook , 355 So.2d 1166, 1167-68 (Fla. 1977) (noting "separate elements" of "in the course" and "arising out of" employment); Sentry Ins. , 69 So.3d at 1070 (worker......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
47 cases
  • Carruthers v. PPG Industries, Inc., No. 88-C-2947
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Louisiana
    • May 1, 1989
    ...not that of the average worker or other mythical person. State v. Kemp, 711 P.2d 1142 (Wyo.1986); So. Bell Tel. & Tel. Co. v. McCook, 355 So.2d 1166 (Fla.1977); Meadow Gold Dairies v. Oliver, 535 P.2d 290 (Okla.1975); Baker Mobiles of Florida v. O'Neil, 412 So.2d 34 (Fla.Dist.Ct.App.1982); ......
  • Cox v. Fagen Inc., No. S-95-673
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Nebraska
    • March 22, 1996
    ...Parcel Service v. Fetterman, 230 Va. 257, 336 S.E.2d 892 (1985) (bending over to tie shoelace); Southern Bell Tel. & Tel. Co. v. McCook, 355 So.2d 1166 (Fla.1977) (employee, while sitting on toilet, bent over to pick up toilet tissue); Barrett v. Herbert Engineering, Inc., 371 A.2d 633 (Me.......
  • Zundell v. Dade County School Bd., No. 91-1848
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • December 15, 1992
    ...occurred during the course of employment, and (3) the accident arose out of the employment. Southern Bell Tel. and Tel. Co. v. McCook, 355 So.2d 1166 (Fla.1977). At issue in the instant case is the "arising out of employment" or causation element. This component must be established by showi......
  • Sedgwick CMS v. Valcourt-Williams, No. 1D17-96
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • April 5, 2019
    ...the issue here. The issue here is whether the injury was "arising out of" the employment. See Southern Bell Tel. & Tel. Co. v. McCook , 355 So.2d 1166, 1167-68 (Fla. 1977) (noting "separate elements" of "in the course" and "arising out of" employment); Sentry Ins. , 69 So.3d at 1070 (worker......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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